2021 Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Prize Winners

By CHM Editorial | April 27, 2021

Inspiring People

We've got good news!

We were (positively) overwhelmed by the response to our call for proposals for the first-ever Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Prize. The Prize is intended to foster a global community committed to tech for good—advancing work for social impact, highlighting role models, and inspiring the next generation of innovators. With eighty ambitious proposals from an incredibly talented pool, the distinguished selection committee, chaired by Paul Saffo, had their work cut out for them narrowing down the field to just two Changemakers and nominating and selecting a Luminary.

Part of CHM's expanding work in advancing tech for good, the Prize, supported by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, enables us to recognize and reward people who are doing critical work to benefit humanity. We're excited to bring forward their inspiring stories.

Innovating Opportunity

Sal Khan, 2021 Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Luminary

CHM is pleased to honor Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Luminary Sal Khan, for a lifetime of achievement and his extraordinary impact expanding access to learning worldwide using technology. A pioneer in the world of online learning, Sal is the founder and CEO Khan Academy and the founder of Khan Lab School. Providing free online education to anyone, Khan Academy has reached more than 120 million registered users in 190 countries. Learn more about Sal.

Sal Khan exemplifies what Pat McGovern stood for and what the Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Prize seeks to honor in a Luminary. Sal's vision, passion, and innovative use of technology has given millions of people an opportunity to participate in the game of life. As Pat would say, “the best is yet to come!"

— Lore Harp McGovern, Selection Committee

To ensure that Sal's story is captured for future generations, CHM will conduct an oral history and create a short documentary. We'll host a celebration to honor his lifetime impact in tech for good. But we're sure that Sal has more in store, so stay tuned and we'll keep you up-to-date.

"We can't shy away from educating the planet," says Sal Khan, articulating his ambitious vision for shaping a better world. He is an inspiration for all of us, and particularly for the rising stars who are using technology to tackle urgent challenges in every sector.

Innovating Access and Equity

It was a privilege to learn about the work of the extraordinary candidates who applied for the inaugural Prize. Around the world, in every sector, with hope and optimism, talented innovators are working to develop novel technologies to solve today's urgent challenges.

These innovators are serving humanity in signficant and sometimes surprising ways. Because of their creative problem-solving and intelligence, I see a bright future on the horizon.

— Marguerite Gong Hancock, Selection Committee

We are proud to award $50,000 to each of two “Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Changemakers” for their dedication to tech for good, their future promise, and the potential impact of their proposed projects. To advance their work, CHM will provide Changemakers with access to the Museum’s unparalleled collection, in-house experts, and extensive network. Their stories will be highlighted in special programs and their work chronicled in the permanent collection as models of decoding tech for humanity.

Mercy Nyamewaa Asiedu, 2021 Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Changemaker

Mercy Nyamewaa Asiedu is a bioengineer and Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT. Her project will develop a data-driven, personalized mobile health platform for chronic disease management in sub-Saharan Africa, and improve access to low-cost, artificial intelligence-based cervical cancer diagnostic tools globally. Mercy is excited to have been selected for the Prize and says, "The premise of the Prize, to use technology to address the world's most urgent challenges, specifically in health equity, is very close to my heart because of my lived experiences and my realm of work. It is an absolute honor to have been entrusted with the honorarium and resources to continue this vital work."

Learn more about Mercy's projects.


Michael Bernstein, 2021 Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Changemaker

Michael Bernstein is a Stanford Computer Science Professor. His project aims to reduce bias in technology by developing a jury-based approach to artificial intelligence and machine learning that considers diverse perspectives. It includes a public-awareness website and open-source models for companies. In accepting the Prize, Michael said: "I am thankful to the people who shape my research: my students, whose creativity and leadership have been central; and those who push tirelessly for better futures for online platforms, whose efforts fuel my desire to do better. My hope is that I'll keep learning through the Computer History Museum's insight and support in developing those positive futures, and rallying our collective insights."

Learn more about Michael's project.

Stay tuned for updates about the progress of Mercy and Michael's projects!

Inspiring Work

Mercy and Michael were selected from a diverse and competitive field of candidates. The 80 Changemaker applicants are working in academia, non-profit organizations, corporations, and start-ups of every kind, many founded by themselves. They come from thirteen countries: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States. Their projects ranged across a wide variety of sectors, including agriculture, art, civic engagement, cybersecurity, diversity/equity/inclusion, education, environment, energy, healthcare, law, and social media.

Changemaker finalists will join CHM’s growing global community dedicated to tech for good. Learn more about their work.

You, too, can join the effort to shape a better future by learning more about the technology that has an ever-expanding influence on our lives. Together, we can build a world we all want to live in. Become a member of the CHM community.

About The Author

CHM Editorial consists of editors, curators, writers, educators, archivists, media producers, researchers, and web designers, looking to bring CHM audiences the best in technology and Museum news.

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